FOTE 2012 app screenshot“When did someone from Amazon last come round to your door and say sorry, we’ve changed the interface, would you like some training?” (Dave Coplin from Bing, at FOTE 2012).

I’ve blogged before about the idea that you shouldn’t have to give your users training for them to be able to use your website, so it was quite interesting to hear someone from a large IT company like Bing say pretty much the same thing at FOTE the other week.  And Dave Coplin’s presentation is worth catching up with on the FOTE mediasite (link at the bottom of this blog post).

It was my second time at FOTE and last time one of my reflections was on the amount of effort they had put into getting android and iOS apps for the conference.  So there was a similar set of apps this year, in green rather than yellow and it was certainly good to have everything together in a nice neat app.  One thing though I did notice was that the attendance list in the app was a bit sparse with names.  Not quite sure why but presumably people had to opt-in to have their names included.  In some ways that was a shame as it made it difficult to find out who was there – I only realised that someone who works in the same building as me was at the conference when they asked a question from the audience.  Although a lot of the networking at conferences these days takes place on social networks, mainly twitter and Google Plus, while the conference is taking place, it’s still good to have access to a list of delegates.

Learning Analytics
The first presentation by Cailean Hargrave from IBM talked largely about their work in the area of Learning Analytics, using an example from FE. It was really interesting to see a fully worked through example of the power and reach of learning analytics.  To see the tool being used to drive a portal for staff, students and employers, throughout the student journey was fascinating.  To see examples of how it could be used to make suggestions to students on what they might do to improve their grades I think was really eye-opening and really touched on some of the potentially scary elements of Learning Analytics.  It goes a long way beyond recommendations into areas where you are trying to shape particular behaviours and touches on some of the ethical issues that have been raised about learning analytics.

Research Data
I was also really interested to hear about Figshare a cloud-based respository for researchers data, that plays into the whole open research data agenda, mentioning the recent Royal Society ‘Science as an open enterprise‘ paper and the push by funders towards open access of research data.  The model for the system seems to be supported through a tie-up with an academic publisher and it will be really interesting to see whether this is a sustainable model.  It’s certainly another alternative for researchers and at a time when many institutions are still gearing themselves up to deliver research data management systems is an interesting alternative solution.

FOTE
For a short one-day conference FOTE packed in a wide range of content, from ipads in learning, through game-based learning, to ebooks and a debate on the hot topic of ‘MOOCs’ Massively Open Online Courses.  Some good things to take away from the day.

Presentations from FOTE are all available from:

http://events.mediasite.com/Mediasite/Catalog/Full/9186666a02e542ea9d840c37bfaa19e321

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